eCommerce Taxonomy Automation

Ecommerce Catalog Management: Everything You Need To Know

Matt Payne
November 23, 2022

Your customers expect an easy and immersive online shopping experience - whether they’re browsing your website, catalog, Amazon shop, or retail store.

First, customers expect to find the products they’re seeking fast. 

Once they do, they’ll do a little product research - browsing through product images and videos, scanning descriptions, reading reviews, and comparing colors, fabrics, and other materials.

Together, these details make up a rich product experience, and to customers, it’s a non-negotiable. 

In today’s hyper-competitive market, you cannot risk getting the ecommerce experience wrong - 85% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

Of course, delivering that great ecommerce experience is easier said than done, especially for busy e-commerce stores selling large volumes of products. 44% of surveyed brands said one of the biggest challenges to selling in marketplaces is controlling the customer experience.

Thankfully, accelerating  catalog management tasks using the power of AI is a huge lifesaver for busy e-commerce businesses trying to deliver the best online shopping experiences.

What Is Catalog Management for Ecommerce?

Catalog management is the behind-the-scenes process of organizing, managing, and updating a high volume of product SKUs.

Catalog management compiles SKUs in a centralized location, to be shared with websites, marketplaces, retailers, sales reps, and suppliers – any stakeholders and any channels selling your products.

Years ago, catalog management for ecommerce was a tedious, error-prone nightmare. Marketers used enormous spreadsheets full of product information, attributes, and links to media assets, like:

  • Imagery
  • Product descriptions
  • Sizes and specs
  • Fabrics and materials
  • SKU numbers
  • Product categories
  • Prices
  • Variances
  • Suppliers
  • Marketplaces
  • Country of origin
  • You get the idea.

You’d then have to manually customize every spreadsheet to match specs from each retailer, platform, or marketplace receiving the data. You can imagine how this archaic process turns a simple update into a colossal waste of time, or worse, an expensive error.

Enter: catalog management software, made more powerful with AI, to give busy e-commerce businesses much-needed spreadsheet relief.

Goodbye Spreadsheets - Hello Record Management Software, Automated with AI

Product categorization and record management software empowers businesses to upload, track, and optimize all aspects of the product experience in less time and with fewer errors.

By centralizing product data into a simple tool, you can:

  • Search, filter, sort, and update fields, based on users’ needs and business goals
  • Update individual products or bulk update many products at a time
  • Ensure a consistent and complete product representation across the web.

Though software helps, managing product data is still a time-consuming task. There are two ways to handle it:

  • The hard way, manually uploading all product information and categorizing each product into a taxonomy
  • The easy way, automatically generating product descriptions and determining relevant product categories in bulk with AI.

Manual Catalog Entry

If you are manually categorizing and optimizing your product catalog, you’re accepting a level of risk and inflating overhead costs.

Humans are prone to errors and oversight, even with the best tools. Plus, you’ll need team members to continuously update and manage the system. 

As your product lines or sales channel strategy grow, you’ll need more people to manage the high volume of SKUs.

AI-Driven Catalog Management Saves Time

Alternatively, you can let AI do the hard work for you, enabling your product line and distribution strategy to scale without additional team members.

Tools that leverage AI to accelerate  catalog management tasks, like, automatically matches products to your product taxonomy (a structuring system placing products and their attributes in thoughtful categories to match customers’ buying intent).

The AI can even find new product categories and tags to extend your audience reach, completing catalog management tasks 17x faster than manual options.

Even better? Some tools also offer content management services - taking everything off your plate from:

  • Creating datasets
  • Managing evaluations
  • Generating models that work best for your business.

3 Benefits of Automating Catalog Management Tasks

First Impressions Matter - Rich Product Experiences

Have you ever purchased a product without seeing a picture first? Of course not!

Google reports that over 80% of customers conduct their research online before making a purchase decision. 

Even a minor oversight like missing or generic images, incomplete details or specifications, and vague claims could turn off customers and sink your sales.

But, if you update and complete all of your product data, then your customers will:

  • Find answers to all of their questions
  • Feel at ease trusting your store to deliver products as promised
  • Visualize themselves using your products.

You can help customers make a confident purchase with simple changes like:

  • Showing multiple product images
  • Writing thoughtful descriptions and headlines
  • Including other complementary information, like FAQs.

Using AI to automate catalog management tasks makes it easier to manage and optimize this rich product experience, ensuring product data is complete, consistent, on-brand, and optimized both for search engines and customers.

Guide Customers to the Right Products - Catalog Organizaiton and Taxonomy

A well-organized e-commerce store (with a thoughtful product taxonomy, or categorization system) helps customers find the products they’re looking for faster. In fact, 90% of users rate an "easy navigation" as one of the most important elements of a website.

This is where a lot of e-commerce businesses create problems. The natural inclination is to organize your store to match how you manage products internally by SKU, Model Name, or other factors.

The issue here is your internal systems or SKU numbers mean nothing to your customers. Instead, your products need to be organized to mimic how your customers shop and each customer may shop a little differently. **

For example, let’s say our customer is searching for a heavy winter coat to wear on an Alaskan cruise. A poor website navigation might have one option - Coats - and it’s up to the customer to scroll, filter, and refine - hoping they get lucky.

(Psst - most customers will not stick with you to scroll, filter, and refine. They want to find that heavy winter coat fast, or they’ll check out a competitor.)

Ecommerce Catalog Management

Screenshot of Marshalls' Online Store Categories

Here, you can see how Marshalls is organizing their catalog to suit multiple search options. The customer can navigate directly to “Puffers & Heavy Coats” under Coats and Jackets, or they can find Coats and Jackets under the Clothing category.

Marshalls’ descriptive and well-organized categories represent a solid product taxonomy.

A reliable product taxonomy improves customers’ ability to search and find products and enables marketers to better upsell and cross-sell. 

For example, Marshalls might recommend gloves or scarves to complement our Alaskan cruise puffer coat.

Software like replaces the guesswork of creating a strategic taxonomy by combining AI/machine learning to automate product categorization - reducing up to 90% of the manual labor for catalog management tasks.

Your team members will thank you for finding solutions to take tedious catalog management tasks off their plates. Your customers will thank you for giving them a simple and speedy buying experience - win, win!

Consistent Product Experiences - Standardization Across Sales Channels

The modern e-commerce landscape is complex and multi-faceted.

73% of shoppers surveyed use multiple channels before making a purchase and 38% of consumers purchase products through marketplaces at least once a month.

E-commerce catalog management brings together:

  • Products from different wholesalers, distributors, and partners
  • (each with their own standardization protocols, languages, and preferences)
  • Rich product data
  • Inventory
  • Media files
  • Much more….

On top of that, each platform, marketplace, and retailer has unique requirements for receiving and distributing product data.

You can imagine how complicated this can get, especially for e-commerce brands selling a high volume of products, across channels, to a regional or global audience.

Throw in the inevitable, like seasonality or holiday promotions, and you have a perfect storm. Can you imagine manually updating every product by hand for your Black Friday sale?

A catalog management solution creates standardization across these moving parts, so your product experience is up-to-date, complete, and error-free.

AI takes on the heavy lifting, accelerating data-heavy and error-prone tasks to ensure product consistency everywhere a customer may browse or buy.

Do Your Business a Favor - Automate Catalog Management Tasks with AI

Your customers expect to find on-brand, up-to-date, and complete product information across your website, third-party marketplaces (like Amazon), catalogs, emails, social media, ads, and more.

Quality images, videos, product descriptions, and details help customers visualize products in use and motivate them to buy, while inventory reduces customer frustration and creates a sense of urgency.

Empower your teams by  automating  catalog management tasks to reduce complications, save frustration, expedite speed-to-market, and improve the overall product experience.

Ready to get started? Get a demo of and speed up product categorization, catalog management, and data quality 15x faster than manual alternatives.